We’ve gotten the official go-ahead from our Dear Birthmother Letter editor to start the design process for the paper version of our precise 950-word letter (the electronic version will be on our iheartadoption.org website). At our Weekend Intensive Workshop, we covered – in considerable detail – some of the IAC’s preferences / suggestions / recommendations / rules for putting together this document. We got to see examples. We got to take one of these examples home. Now we are putting together our very own and we need YOUR help!
The Dear Birthmother hard copy will take some form of the following three examples, depending on which layout *A* and I decide we like best:
There are 15 such layouts, each with various differences in style, colors, and design – or we can come up with our own (not a heartily smiled-upon option). As you can see, on the front page, there is a central feature: one large photo. It’s gotta be a good one. From the “Getting Noticed” section of our Client Binder: “This picture will show your head(s) and shoulders (you should take up around 75% of the picture). You want to look relaxed, happy, and welcoming. Choose a background that isn’t busy and distracting….Avoid strong shadows or sunlight….No squinting! The birthmother needs to be able to make eye contact with you in this photo… Choose clothing colors that are in the same color family, i.e. are cool (blue undertone) or all warm (yellow undertone) colors. Consider your photo session as a ‘photo event’ rather than as an ordeal. It is often helpful to invite a few friends or family members over…”
And the list of helpful hints goes on for several more paragraphs…
*A* and I fretted over this non-ordeal “photo-event” ever since we found out about it. First, we thought about the location, which needed to be outside on a moderately sunny afternoon, with a natural backdrop behind us. Second – and this was a big one – who would we get to patiently (and endlessly) snap pictures while we figured out how to pose ourselves, which is the least-crooked, most natural way to smile, etc. Third – almost all the clothing we both own are either plaids (me) or earth tones (*A*). Bookish, lumber-jack-y, and granola. That’s sort of pigeon-holing ourselves.
One afternoon a while back, after a really pretty, dry, moderately sunny day (several weeks later, I realize just how rare those kinds of days have been this summer!), I decided we should throw caution to the wind and get this “photo-event” over with. *A* was helping me with a little kid birthday party at work that day, and after it was over, we headed over to a nearby National Park Service site (I work quite near the Blue Ridge Parkway) to scout out location opportunities. *A* had brought some polo shirts of varying colors – she vetoed my selection of plaid button-downs – and we picked out two we thought were least likely to make us look weird. We picked a few spots and ignored the passers-by (it’s a popular place to walk and run) staring at us trying to figure out what we were doing.
It probably was pretty funny – out of our list of concerns from the previous paragraph up there, we figured out a way to eliminate the second one – the extra person(s). We didn’t really want a “photo event.” We had an inkling that this would be a lengthy process. We figured out how to make our borrowed camera take a time-delay picture. Using a tripod (thanks, Pop!), I aimed the camera at *A* and had 5 seconds to run around the camera/tripod and jump, thoughtfully posed, into the photo.
We went through this what seemed like 447 times. In truth, it was probably 448 times.
We felt like what every beauty pageant contestant and/or politician must feel like – we needed to unscrew our smiley faces and put our regular expressions back on.
Alrighty, I said we needed your help. Out of the bazillion pictures we took that day (and about 45 we took the next day on our back deck, none of which either of us liked – picky, picky), we’ve narrowed it down to these few wherein our personal criteria has been met (no weird chin angles; hair in mostly the right places; no flaring nostrils; smiling heartily but not snorting with pain and/or laughter at being poked in the ribs for the umpteenth time to provoke a “natural” smile; no weird eyebrow formations from one of us *almost* tripping over the tripod and sending the whole borrowed-camera contraption flying into the rock wall; no glaring at thoroughly entranced and/or quacking pedestrians – human, canine, or goose variety-who were obviously enjoying the show).
Frankly, we’re kind of sick of looking at ourselves. So this is where your good photographic eye comes in.
Any of these can be cropped to center us better, so don’t let effect your decision. But please, do tell us if we look like cretins or if there’s something weird about the photo that we’re not catching because we’ve looked at them too frequently…
Photo #3: Rock Wall #2
Photo #4: Rock Wall #3
Photo #5: Rock Wall #4
We both like the ferny background (photo #1) and would’ve taken more shots of that one, but it was in a shady spot and the light was fading, so we moved to the rock wall.
So what do you think? Do you like these photos? (Please say yes!) Help us decide which one to use as our cover photo by voting below: